BEA – from techno to business centric

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2006 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

I have been going to BEA World for the last three years and I have seen an amazing turnaround in that period. My first encounter with BEA, in Orlando, was disturbing for me with a lot of the discussion around the detail of the latest J2EE enhancement, but the real excitement being the announcement of a faster JVM engine. The discussions about the IDE seemed to be considered as high-level business oriented subjects. I exaggerate a little and the improvements were significant but it did feel as if BEA and the delegates did not understand that all this was just a means to an end and not the end itself.

I have been commenting about this to the executive whenever, and wherever, I met them and at BEA World in Prague there was a significant, even profound, shift in emphasis. Interestingly this shift was most visible when the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) chaired a round table of BEA’s internal liquid thinkers. The discussion was all about how to embed the business user and the business analyst into the development process and how to speed up the process by developing situational applications.

This change of emphasis from techno to business is related to the announcements of BEA SOA 360°. SOA 360° is BEA’s vision of providing a complete SOA solution and it undoubtedly brings many of the components required together. SOA 360° is made up of two main components: the techno-centric micro Service Architecture (mSA) and the business orientated WorkSpace 360°.

WorkSpace 360° is a family of products. A key product is WorkSpace Central which is a central repository, of all the services and components, that can be accessed by all parties to a modern solution; according to the CTO the parties include: business analysts, architects, developers and operations.

Each of the user types has a WorkSpace tailored to their way of working with interfaces to the repository and the tools used to create the metadata that defines new applications, including: the related business processes, the interconnection with other systems and services and the user interfaces. The use of metadata in this way means that new applications can be mashed together much more quickly and with much more direct input from the business.

Each of the workspaces can be used independently but can also view and share information with the other workspaces. The intention is that the business will be able to be more agile as these situational apps can be built up, and torn down again, as required by specific needs and situations.

I think that BEA has got its emphasis right and it recognises that it needs to sell the 360° concepts directly to the business and hence the move from techno babble to business speak.

I do not think that BEA has yet gone far enough and I look forward to next years BEA World and hope to see two further changes:

  • Firstly an emphasis on the usability and accessibility of the user interfaces of the situational apps. This cannot be left to the developer or even the business analyst. BEA software should produce good interfaces automatically and then provide extra help to the designers and developers so that the good interfaces can be turned into excellent ones.
  • Secondly BEA should use this move from techno-centric to human-centric as a way to attract more ladies to the industry. In Prague this year less than 5% of the delegates were female-it would be good for BEA and the IT Industry if that increase to the high teens by next year.

BEA has made significant strides over the last couple of years and is in a good position to benefit commercially with the new announcements. I will continue to follow them with interest.